Sir Mark & Tim dancing in France

Once again Bettina Hoy and Seigneur Medicott produce a stunning dressage to take the lead of the CIC3* ERM class at Haras de Jardy International (Image: Libby Law Photography)

Leg 4 of the 2017 Event Rider Masters (ERM) has kicked off with dressage at the magnificent and historic grounds of Haras de Jardy in Versailles, France. There is an impressive international field of 40 horses and riders, representing 14 nations and including former and current Olympians, World and European medallists, all hoping to stake their claim on the coveted ERM podium and the 60,000 euro prize pot.

Bettina Hoy took the lead with a lovely test on Seigneur Medicott for 31.4, and holds a three-point advantage over her ex-husband Andrew Hoy and Cheeky Calimbo (34.4).

Andrew Hoy and Cheeky Calimbo (Image: Libby Law Photography)

Seigneur Medicott and Bettina won the CIC*** German Championship last month at Luhmühlen on a remarkable finishing score of 26.3.  “He is so reliable”, Bettina said. “He always gives 150% and although he was a bit tense outside the arena today, he delivered inside it. I now need to focus on being competitive tomorrow and delivering the results”.

Sir Mark Todd, who broke his ERM jinx at Leg 3 last weekend by finishing third, is at Jardy with NZB Campino. They are currently 9th on a score of 39, just ahead of Oliver Townend on Cooley Master Class (last year’s ERM series winner) with 39.1.

NZB Campino looks very relaxed for Sir Mark Todd (Image: Libby Law Photography)

The only other New Zealander competing is Tim Price, who is riding Jonelle’s talented mare, Ascona M. Their score of 43.7 has put them into 19th place.

Tim Price and the lovely mare Ascona M are in 19th place after dressage, 12 penalties behind the leader (Image: Libby Law)

The current world number 1, European and Olympic champion, Michael Jung, made his ERM debut riding Star Connection for Germany.  His score of 35.7 puts him in fifth place and definitely into contention for adding this title to his super-impressive CV.

Michael Jung, Oliver Townend and others watch the dressage after completing their own tests (Image: Libby Law Photography)

The French, who have featured prominently on the podium across the 2016 and 2017 series, have 13 combinations in the event, including Thibaut Vallette and Qing de Briot who are currently third on 34.8. Sidney Dufresne, who finished fourth at Leg 3 last weekend and is current world number five, is 29th on 50.6 with Swing de Perdriat, so has some work to do. However, Karim Florent Laghouag and Entebbe de Hus are well placed on 34.9 in fourth, with Cedric Lyard and his 2017 Badminton horse Cadeau du Roi 11th on 40.

Thibaut Vallette and Qing du Briot ENE HN are third after dressage at Haras de Jardy (Image: Libby Law Photography)

The French demonstrated their dominance in eventing at the 2016 Olympics by winning team gold, and could feature prominently on the ERM podium at Jardy, particularly with the home crowd advantage.

New Zealander Andrew Bennie, seen here in the judges’ box at B during the dressage phase, is on the Ground Jury. His fellow judges are Eric Lieby (France) and Angela Tucker (GBR). (Image: Libby Law Photography)

All of the top 10 combinations produced a sub-40 dressage mark, and fewer than eight marks separate them ahead of tomorrow’s show jumping. The competition will conclude with cross-country run in reverse order of merit.

Sir Mark Todd and Tim Price walking the CIC3* ERM cross-country course. (Image: Libby Law Photography)
No sign of any rubber bands here! Ascona M gets prepared by Holly Fitzgerald for the CIC3* ERM dressage. (Image: Libby Law Photography)
NZB Campino looks very much at home in the beautiful stables at Versailles, near Paris. (Image: Libby Law Photography)
The stunning stable complex at Haras de Jardy in Versailles, France. (Image: Libby Law Photography)